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Former University of Utah offensive lineman Nick Ford works out on Feb. 14 at Exos in Carlsbad.
Former University of Utah offensive lineman Nick Ford works out on Feb. 14 at Exos in Carlsbad. The company works with NFL prospects to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft. Photo by Steve Puterski
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NFL prospects prepare for combine at Carlsbad training facility

CARLSBAD — For some, as soon as their collegiate football careers end, their journey to the NFL begins.

Dozens of NFL prospects, including San Diego State standout Greg Bell and University of California linebacker Cameron Goode, are ramping up their training for next month’s 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft on April 28 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

These big-league hopefuls are training at Exos’ Carlsbad facility under Roy Holmes, facility manager and lead combine coach, who has molded dozens of athletes over the years, including former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck.

Exos, which has four locations nationwide, aims to redefine the future of NFL prospects invited to this year’s combine, such as Bell, through a grueling nine-week training course.

And for players who didn’t receive an invite, such as Goode, they are nonetheless putting in work to showcase their skills in spring at their respective colleges’ Pro Day.

Regardless of your status, Holmes’ position is simple: get his clients drafted.

Roy Holmes works with NFL prospects on Feb. 14 at Exos in Carlsbad.
Roy Holmes works with NFL prospects on Feb. 14 at Exos in Carlsbad. Holmes prepares athletes for drills at the combine and pro days in order for his clients to be drafted. Photo by Steve Puterski

“It’s more of a structuralized program that is specific to passing the test in order to interview for the NFL,” Holmes said. “The overall package we like to present … is that we’re a one-stop-shop. They can get everything done here.”

Holme’s “one-stop-shop” mantra has led Exos to include all aspects of training — physical therapy, speed and strength training, massage and registered dieticians. The facility features a sprawling weight room, outdoor hot and cold tubs, and a 40-yard track for speed training.

Holmes, who played football at Northern Arizona University, said the process starts with simple yet important steps to gauge an athlete’s current baseline condition, such as conducting diet and medical reviews to ensure the athlete is ready to maximize their training.

From there, Holmes and staff break off athletes into groups for the six-days-a-week training sessions.

Bell, the Aztecs’ standout running back, said within the first week, he noticed the positive impact of a new diet — more energy and more confidence, which has spilled over into his overall performance.

Bell will take part in the combine, which runs from March 1-7 in Indianapolis, along with former SDSU teammate Cameron Thomas, a Carlsbad High School grad who is currently training at Exos’ location in Phoenix, Ariz.

“Everything is second to none,” Bell said. “My body feels way better because I’m eating the right things now. Also, the speed training. I feel way faster and more explosive.”

Holmes said once the medical and dietary testing is complete, then he launches into intense workout sessions focusing on speed, strength and agility. Athletes must run through a gamut of drills — 40-yard dash with 10- and 20-yard splits, bench press at 225 pounds, vertical and broad jumps, shuttle drills, 3-cone drills and position-specific training.

Holmes ramps up the intensity but is careful to put each athlete on a taper program so they can perform at their maximum for the NFL Combine, Pro Day, or both. As for Exos, the company’s clientele consists of roughly 38% of the 324 collegiate athletes invited to the combine, according to Chase Altieri, public relations manager at Exos.

In 2021, the company had 15 first-round NFL Draft picks — four of which were in the top 10 — and a total of 87 athletes drafted, Alteri said.

Goode said his new diet has changed his energy levels, but he is extra motivated after not receiving an invitation to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-4, Houston native said he is focusing on speed and technique for his Pro Day on March 16, hoping to increase explosiveness from his stance.

“I’ve been out here trying to get my start and stance,” Goode said. “Every week it’s improving. Getting ready for a season is different, it’s a lot of heavy weight. Here, it’s a lot of technique…and getting explosive.”